Wednesday 17 January 2018

Plan to buy Quinn stake may have been my idea – official

Con Horan at court yesterday. Picture: Courtpix
Con Horan at court yesterday. Picture: Courtpix

Donal O'Donovan and Dearbhail McDonald

A SENIOR official at the Financial Regulator says he may have come up with the idea of putting together a group of wealthy individuals to buy Sean Quinn's stake in Anglo Irish Bank.

And regulators knew that the deal to buy the Sean Quinn stake could involve some financing from the bank.

That's all according to evidence from Con Horan who was second-in-command at the Financial Regulator at the time of the 2008 deal.

Mr Horan was giving evidence yesterday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank directors accused of allowing the bank to illegally provide loans used to fund the acquisition of the shares in the bank.

The three accused men are Sean FitzPatrick (65), from Greystones, Co Wicklow; William McAteer (63), of Rathgar in Dublin; and Patrick Whelan (51), of Malahide, Co Dublin.

They are charged with 16 counts each of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in Anglo Irish Bank.

The 16 are members of the Quinn family plus the so-called 'Maple 10'; a group of 10 former large-scale customers of Anglo Irish Bank. The three men have pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

In 2008 Con Horan was the prudential director at the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA).

Yesterday, Mr Horan agreed that the idea of bringing in so called high net-worth individuals was raised at a meeting he had with former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm.

Mr Horan said he could not recall whether it was originally his idea for the bank to organise a group of high net worth individuals.


He said he may have been the one to raise the issue.

He was told there was a possibility that US investment house Bain could buy 10pc of the bank, he said.

Mr Horan said that a high level group known as the Domestic Standing Group – which was made up of officials from the Central Bank, Financial Regular and Department of Finance – discussed the situation of Anglo Irish Bank and Sean Quinn's indirect stake in the bank on July 8, 2008.

The officials considered asking the two main banks – AIB and Bank of Ireland – to create an investment vehicle to take over Mr Quinn's exposure to Anglo Irish Bank.

Minutes of the Domestic Standing Group meeting state that a "domestic solution" would have to be found for the Quinn stake if the potential US deal fell though, the jury was told.

The meetings took place in the weeks before Anglo Irish Bank lent money to 10 clients and members of the Quinn family to unwind the businessman's indirect stake in the bank which was regarded as dangerously large.

Mr Horan agreed with defence barrister Brendan Grehan that it did not "cause any alarm bells" when he was told by Mr Drumm that the deal to unwind the Quinn stake might involve some lending by the bank.

Mr Horan indicated in his evidence that he expected any such loans to be short term.

Irish Independent

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